Improving the safety of cosmetic treatments

Cosmetic treatments are growing in popularity and new non-surgical cosmetic procedures are rapidly emerging on the market. However, the existing legislation and regulation of providers of cosmetic procedures is not fit for purpose. Local authorities in most of England do not have adequate powers to ensure treatments are carried out safely by qualified and competent practitioners. For some procedures, there is effectively no regulation on who is allowed to perform them. Requirements are inconsistent across the country and the legislation does cover many of the newer, riskier treatments available on the market.

There are no mandatory education, training or qualification requirements for the practitioners of most procedures, and training courses vary significantly in length, content and quality. New legislation is needed to ensure that all individuals are suitably qualified and understand the fundamentals of infection control before they can begin performing treatments on clients. Regulators working at the local authority level also need stronger powers to tackle rogue practitioners and immediately stop unsafe practices.

What are we doing?

For the past couple of years, we have been calling for a mandatory England-wide licencing scheme for cosmetic procedures. We believe this would be a significant step towards ensuring that all those who carry out cosmetic treatments are competent and qualified and that the treatments take place in safe and hygienic premises.

Working with a coalition of 20 organisations, CIEH drafted and supported a key amendment to the Health and Care Bill, aimed at making the cosmetic industry safer in England. With the support of a group of cross-party MPs and Lords, we have managed to get our amendment accepted by the Government to be part of the Health and Care Act. Through this amendment, Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Care, will have the power to introduce a licensing regime for non-surgical cosmetic procedures in England.

See our press release on the laid amendment and our most recent parliamentary briefings on this subject.

Our policy reports

Last year, we conducted some research together with the Institute of Licensing to fill gaps in the evidence base. Our survey of environmental health and licencing practitioners found that 9 in 10 (90%) agree that an England wide licencing scheme could improve the regulatory system.

We have published two reports on the regulation of cosmetic treatments.

Cosmetic treatments report coversOur first report, A fragmented picture: Regulation of cosmetic treatments in the UK, brings together information on the prevalence, public awareness and existing regulation of these treatments across the UK.

Our second report, The ugly side of beauty: improving the safety of cosmetic treatments in England, reveals the findings of our survey of regulators in England, who are responsible for keeping the public safe, and the serious gaps they see in the protections.

This sets our recommendations for changes needed to ensure that these treatments operate in the safest way possible and so that regulators have adequate enforcement powers to protect public health.

What's next?

The new legislation introduced as part of the Health and Care Act will enable the Secretary of State to bring in a licensing regime for non-surgical cosmetic procedures, which would provide safeguards and better regulate the cosmetic industry in England. However, much of the detail of the new scheme will be decided in a Government consultation. This includes which procedures would be licensed, what qualifications and standards would need to be met and how the scheme would be enforced.

We look forward to working with the Government and our members to inform our response to this important consultation to ensure that the new licensing scheme works well in practice, in order to protect the public from harm.


A fragmented picture: regulation of cosmetic treatments in the UK The ugly side of beauty: improving the safety of cosmetic treatments in England

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